Is Solo Dance Self Indulgent?
Vulnerability is all over me when I dance. Maybe the audience doesn’t notice it because of the way I have manipulated the movement or the way my facial expression looks as I focus on them, but I know that when I watch my work I become more and more aware of who I am . Solo practice has been labelled as “self-indulgent” and I can understand why, but I think it is the wrong description as it almost sounds as though it is a bad thing. What is wrong with being drawn into ourselves, getting to know who we are a bit better? I would say that this process is very similar to meditation which is a practice that often encourages self-development and self discovery. So many motivational speakers will tell us how much we don’t know about ourselves and they are right; to be alone with thoughts is sometimes it is a very scary thing, but I do it because I know that there will be some sort of reward at the end. Some sort of relief.
When we are alone in a studio with nobody to influence what we do or how we do it, we are able to connect with our thoughts. It’s very different when you have a choreographer who is creating a solo on you. There is a certain level of expectation from them, which puts you in the position to want to please them. However, when you are alone you have nobody to please but yourself. You can decide how much you are willing to give, what you are prepared to say and how you will say it.
It took me a while to be ok with being alone when I dance and I am still working on it now. Through persistent practice my awareness of my own strengths and weaknesses has been heightened. This comes from countless hours of watching my improvisations. Each time I start and finish a creative process I find that I am learning something new about myself. I see growth and I see passion. Each time I teach I really enjoy seeing my students look at themselves so that they can see the growth and passion that comes from them when they dance.
After pin pointing a certain weakness I will do something to step outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes I will attend a class that is way above my level of training just so I can feel inferior to the rest of the class. This is not masochistic, it’s purely motivational. When I see other people do things with my own eyes I see that it is possible. This image will then trample all over any excuse that I make as to why I am not yet at that level.
As dancers, as writers, as anyone striving to be better I think we have to continually assess ourselves to ensure that growth is happening. If we don’t “self-indulge” then how will we ever improve?
Do you think solo practice is too self-indulgent?